A125 A Resolution Extending and Furthering the Beloved Community
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring,
That the 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church affirms that striving to become the beloved community of Jesus is central to our baptismal vocation in God’s mission, and every Episcopalian is called to a lifelong vocation of racial justice and equity and the dismantling of white supremacy; and be it further
Resolved, That the Convention establishes an Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice as a voluntary association of Episcopal dioceses, parishes, organizations, and individuals dedicated to the work of becoming the Beloved Community; and be it further
Resolved, That the Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice be charged with facilitating, coordinating, encouraging, supporting, and networking The Episcopal Church’s work in racial justice and equity and the dismantling of white supremacy; and be it further
Resolved, That the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies appoint a Board for the Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice who will take all organizational and legal actions necessary to constitute and oversee said Coalition; and be it further
Resolved, That the Coalition be empowered to secure appropriate funding to support its work including, but not limited to, income (draw) of a tithe of 10 percent of the financial holdings of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Coalition set aside annually for the support and work of the Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice.
We feel that this work should be organized through a separate, but related, new organization in The Episcopal Church for four major reasons:
1. The current corporate structure of The Episcopal Church, like other corporate structures in the United States, has been influenced and shaped by white supremacy. In order to work toward radical change in our church and world, we need new structures to birth new possibilities.
2. Further, the particular history of what became the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society as we now know it is deeply steeped in colonialism and imperialism. A new and different structure is needed to build trust and fully reckon with the ways that history has shaped our mission in all of the places The Episcopal Church exists.
3. Within our current structure, there is no space where all of the good work being done can fully come together and have a multiplying effect on the church and the world. The Presiding Officers and Racial Reconciliation staff have done momentous and groundbreaking prophetic work in developing programming and connecting groups across the church that are working to Become Beloved Community where they are — so much good work, in fact, that we believe it needs an expanded, broader coalition of groups working in solidarity.
This is lifelong work that will span generations. It can no longer be tied to the three-year funding cycle, nor just be a programmatic priority subject to changes in leadership and the mind of any one General Convention. The Coalition would be an organization that would outlast the current dictates and resolutions of the Executive Council and the General Convention.
The History of our Current Structure
The Episcopal Church, since before its founding as a church separate from the Church of England and even before there was an Anglican Communion, was inextricably bound up in economies based upon the forced labors of enslaved peoples, and the project of colonialization. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, (SPG) the venerable missionary society of the Church of England founded in 1701 to spread the good news of Jesus Christ in the American colonies, was funded by profits from sugar cane production by the SPG owned Codrington Plantation in Barbados. SPG missionaries, often revered as founding priests in many historic colonial parishes from Connecticut to the Carolinas, were directly supported by the income from the forced labor of enslaved peoples on Codrington Plantation.
The missionary activity of The Episcopal Church in the 19th and 20th centuries were similarly informed by and collaborated with white supremacist cultural assumptions basic to American colonial territorial expansion on the western frontier of North America and around the world. One of the rationales for the founding of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) in 1821 was to provide assistance and missionary personnel for the American Colonization Society. The American Colonization Society had been formed in 1817 to send free African Americans to west Africa as an alternative to emancipation in the United States resulting in the establishment of Liberia. The DFMS profited from United States territorial expansion often agreeing to governmental initiated parity arrangements with other Christian protestant missionary organizations in order to “civilize and Christianize” Indigenous peoples from the Philippines to the western United States. While faithful individual missionaries often criticized American colonial efforts and worked to support Indigenous peoples, at the institutional and cultural level the DFMS was party to, and an agent of, American imperialism.
The Episcopal Church’s foreign and domestic missionary activities, especially under the auspices of the National Council (now the Executive Council) was motivated by a “national church ideal” that sought to spread the “benefits” of white American values and cultural assumptions through good schools, good hospitals, and right ordered worship. For The Episcopal Church to become the beloved community in Jesus that we aspire to be, we need to tell the truth of how our missionary structures have benefited from white supremacy and American colonialism. And we also need to be open to new ways of organizing our participation in God’s mission unencumbered by the historical manifestations of racism.
The Coalition would be funded by the annual income (draw) of a tithe of 10 percent of the financial holdings of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. In addition, this resolution would give the Coalition the ability to raise money independently for the furtherance of its mission and goals.
Precedents for Separate, Related Organizations to Advance a Specific Goal
There are important precedents in The Episcopal Church for the creation of separate boards that are connected to The Episcopal Church and that have the ability to raise additional money to further a specific goal. These Boards propose policy within the guidelines of General Convention mandate, oversee operations, and report to Executive Council. The staff and assets of the entities under care are owned by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the Church’s corporate entity). Records of the boards and their operating bodies are held by the Archives.
Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD): ERD was originally organized as the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief in 1940 to assist refugees fleeing Europe during World War II. After the war, the agency's efforts expanded to include additional humanitarian assistance, focusing mostly on disaster relief. In 2000, the Fund was renamed Episcopal Relief and Development to emphasize its disaster relief work and its increased programmatic focus on integrated community development. Two years later, Episcopal Relief and Development was incorporated as an independent, 501(c)(3) organization.
Forward Movement: In the midst of the Great Depression the Joint Commission on the Forward Movement was established in 1934 by the General Convention with the general charge to point the Church “forward.” Forward Movement’s first publications came out in 1935 including the first issues of Forward Day by Day, a daily devotional guide. Authorized each triennium by the General Convention, Forward Movement Publications operates with the Presiding Bishop as its chair, and has published key ecumenical documents affecting The Episcopal church as well as other works of historical and biographical importance. Its range of materials expanded in the period after 1986 with the closing of Seabury Press, which was the national Church’s publishing company.
United Thank Offering (UTO): Established in 1889 as the United Offering by the Women's Auxiliary to the Board of Missions, the United Thank Offering (UTO) is a special fund-raising initiative within the Church. Since its inception, the UTO has been a form of grass-roots, self-organized participation by women in a leadership role that is historically intertwined with the history of women and their role in the Episcopal Church, and continues to be a vehicle for lay women's participation in Church life.
 Currently, DFMS controlled funds are $413 million. A 10% (tithe) of the holdings would be $41,300,000. A 5% draw on that tithe would be $2,065,000. This means that there will be approximately $2,000,000 less annually (at current levels) to support the Executive Council budget that would be set aside to fund the Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice. Source: Financial Audit for 2020 and 2019, https://www.episcopalchurch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/07/2020-DFMS-Audit-1.pdf.